Commercialising intellectual property emanating from universities in the Western Cape, South Africa

Stofberg, Jacques Francois (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: University technology transfer and the effective commercialisation of intellectual property emanating from university campuses has become a topic of growing interest. University intellectual property assets have become products generating income streams and competitive advantages for its owners as intellectual property grows in stature in knowledge driven economies. The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of the concept of intellectual property and the importance of its effective commercialisation for SA universities. The research objectives were to define intellectual property, technological innovation, and technology transfer within a university setting and to develop a conceptual framework that would identify key dimensions representing the enabling environment for university technology transfer. These dimensions were then applied to multiple case studies conducted at SU, UCT, UWC and CPUT. The main research question inquires how effective these four universities have been in commercialising intellectual property assets via recognised technology transfer practices. Textual and numeric primary as well as secondary data were used in this study as part of an empirical ethnographic research design. The inquiry strategy uses a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research approaches in the four embedded case studies for describing and analysing existing data. Primary data were collected from the partaking universities by developing a qualitative survey questionnaire as research instrument which was used during in-person interviews to evaluate the effective use of employed technology transfer practices. The resultant overall research design is descriptive and evaluative in nature, using inductive reasoning. The findings reveal five major internal enablers which comprise the policy environment, institutional commitment, the legal milieu, the funding arena and human resources. Some academic interviewees as respondents in the case studies were critical in stating the support from their superiors were lacking the commitment expected from them when compared to the universities’ stated policy documents. A number of respondents to the interviews at the research intensive universities noted that TTO staff are not available to them as they are simply too busy and often overwhelmed by their workload to provide TT services to academic staff and students as inventors. Overall, respondents were satisfied with the level of service they receive from the university TTO. Although this is not a comparative study, the study discovered that the less research-intensive universities have a much shorter pipeline of new invention disclosures for novel technologies, as they have less funding available to direct to basic or applied research activities. It emerged from the literature and the study that university technology transfer is an intriguing and multi-faceted environment that requires dedicated staff with unique skills and management capabilities. The study highlights the single biggest factor affecting the rate of new invention disclosures, and ultimately the success rate of technology transfer commercialisation activities, as the total annual research and development spending at SA universities. The researcher found that without significant quality and quantity of research and development being conducted, little or no revenue streams can be expected from new inventions emanating from SA universities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Tegnologie-oordrag en die effektiewe kommersialisering van intellektuele eiendom wat op universiteitskampusse ontwikkel word het 'n onderwerp geword wat toenemend belangstelling wek. Die intellektuele eiendomsbates van universiteite het produkte geword wat inkomstestrome genereer en mededingende voordele skep vir die eienaars daarvan namate hierdie bateklas in prominensie groei in kennisgedrewe ekonomieë. Die doel van hierdie studie is om ‘n beter begrip te ontwikkel van die term intellektuele eiendom en om die belangrikheid van die effektiewe kommersialisering daarvan vir SA universiteite beter te verstaan. Die navorsingsdoelwitte is om intellektuele eiendom, tegnologiese innovasie, en tegnologie-oordrag binne 'n universiteitsomgewing te definieer en 'n konseptuele raamwerk te ontwikkel wat die dimensies identifiseer wat ‘n ondersteunende omgewing vir tegnologie-oordrag by universiteite skep. Hierdie dimensies word dan toegepas op gevallestudies by die US, UK, UWK en CPUT. Die hoofnavorsingsvraag ondersoek hoe effektief hierdie vier universiteite hul intellektuele eiendomsbates kommersialiseer deur middel van erkende tegnologie-oordrag praktyke. In hierdie studie is geskrewe en numeriese primêre sowel as sekondêre data gebruik as deel van 'n empiriese etnografiese navorsingsontwerp. Die ondersoekstrategie gebruik 'n samevoeging van kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe navorsingsmetodes in die vier ingebedde gevallestudies vir die beskrywing en ontleding van bestaande data. Primêre data is van die deelnemende universiteite ingesamel deur 'n kwalitatief-gebaseerde vraelys te ontwikkel en te gebruik as navorsingsinstrument tydens persoonlike onderhoude om die effektiewe gebruik van tegnologieoordragpraktyke te evalueer. Die gevolglike algehele navorsingsontwerp is beskrywend en ondersoekend van aard, met behulp van induktiewe redenasie. Die bevindings lewer vyf belangrike interne ondersteuners wat bestaan uit institusionele toegewydheid, die wetlike omgewing, beleid- en befondsingsomgewings, en menslike hulpbronne. Sommige akademici as respondente in die gevallestudies was van mening dat die ondersteuning van topbestuur nie die institusionele toegewydheid weerspieel wat hulle onderneem het om te doen in die universiteits se beleidsdokumente nie. ‘n Aantal respondente het gedurende die onderhoude opgemerk dat personeel van die tegnologie oordrag kantoor nie beskikbaar is vir hulle nie, aangesien hulle eenvoudig te besig is en dikwels oorweldig word deur hul werkslading om tegnologie oordrag dienste aan akademiese personeel en studente as uitvinders te lewer. Oorwegend was die respondente gelukkig met die dienste wat hulle ontvang van die universiteit se tegnologie oordrag kantoor. Alhoewel dit nie 'n vergelykende studie is nie, het die studie ontdek dat die universiteite wat minder navorsingsintensief is 'n baie korter pyplyn het van openbaarmakings van nuwe uitvindings van tegnologieë, aangesien hulle meer beperkte befondsing het vir basiese of toegepaste navorsing. Dit blyk uit die literatuur en die studie dat tegnologie-oordrag vanaf universiteite 'n fassinerende en veelsydige omgewing is wat toegewyde personeel met unieke vaardighede en bestuurskundigheid vereis. Die studie dui daarop dat die enkele grootste faktor wat die tempo van nuwe openbaarmakings van uitvindings beïnvloed, en uiteindelik ook die sukseskoers van tegnologie-oordrag se kommersialiserings-aktiwiteite bepaal, die totale jaarlikse navorsings- en ontwikkelingsuitgawes aan SA universiteite is. Die navorser het bevind dat sonder ‘n beduidende gehalte en hoeveelheid navorsing en ontwikkeling, min of geen inkomstestrome van nuwe uitvindings aan SA universiteite verwag kan word nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105869
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